January in the Southwest Garden

January here in the Southwest is blessed in many ways. We have spectacular sunsets in winter, not to mention a most salubrious winter climate. Despite the occasional cold front that touches down, withering tender plants, winters are, on the whole, great for growing everything in our region.  Here’s some ideas to get you growing.

January Color

Grow some winter color. There are a number of annual plants that prefer cooler weather, withering once it warms up in April. This late in the season, get the transplants at the nursery. I say this because our soils are too cold for plants to grow quickly to flowering stage.


My three favorites for winter color are calendula, stock, and pansies. They are colorful, stock is fragrant, and they minimal care to look good. Also pretty are the ornamental cabbages, dusty millers, and sweet william, which tend to also survive light freezes to 28F. For areas that don’t get below freezing (like maybe in pots on the porch) try some snapdragon, lobelia, and dianthus.

Poppies are colorful, and in the nurseries now, but also place them in a slightly protected area. Partially under a tree is good, or in a large pot on a patio. If there is a freeze, plants will recover best if the early morning sun shines on them. Remember that all nursery stock has been pampered before you get it. It may get zapped by cold if placed out in an unprotected area. All these colorful winter annuals add such a cheerful note to the garden, especially when the days are gray and cloudy.


January Lawn Care

If you overseeded your Bermuda lawn with winter rye, now is a good time to fertilize. Since grass is grown for its leaves, all the lawn really needs is some nitrogen. Look for a “lawn” fertilizer like plain ammonium sulfate. Follow label directions, and do not over water.


Watch for Weeds

We had some rain in December – so time to watch for weeds! January is the best time to get rid of weeds. Since you have just filled your yard with colorful annuals, it is a pleasure to do this little task.

Little weeds can flower and scatter seed long before wildflowers do so the sooner you remove them the better. Since we had rain – get on out there and yank them out bu the roots. It is so easy in rain moistened soil. Yanking them out by the roots after the rain we had works well too.

The old saying is “One year weeding equals seven years seeding.” Save yourself seven years of playing catch-up!

Vitex, also called butterfly bush, is a tall shrub that tolerates hot summers and blooms so prettily. Leaves are more of an olive green.

Plant Something

It is not too late, nor too early, to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials. Tender plants like bougainvillea should not be planted now. Not palms, citrus, or succulents like cacti and agaves, either – but virtually any other native Sonoran, Mojave, or Chihuahuan desert plant can take winter planting.

If you are a fan of deep green leaves, consider a myrtle shrub.

If it warms up early this spring, like the weather folk predict, then your plants will be in good shape for surviving the heat of summer. Reminder – don’t over-water your transplant. Cold soils, short days, and combined with the inevitable transplant micro-damage to roots can join up to cause rot and plant death.


Above All – Enjoy!

There is plenty to do in the yard in winter. This is a great excuse to get outside, soak up a little vitamin D, and relish the blessings a Southwestern winter provides.

soule-books-buyWant to Grow Winter Vegetables?

There are so many vegetables you can plant outdoors right now – in the winter! Learn more in my SW Fruit & Vegetable Gardening book.  Follow the link bo buy your signed copy today!


You can also learn more in my online Gardening With Soule Membership Club. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter if you have not yet – because I will be offering special discounts later this month.


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Thanks for Reading



© Article copyright Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. You must ask permission to republish an entire blog post or article. Okay to use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit. You must also include a link to the original post on my site. No stealing photos.

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